The technical recruiting world in the last few months has been eye opening. The truth is that the current job market, at least in technology, is as competitive as ever.  If you haven’t hired this year yet you need to read this article because things have drastically changed.

Across the country, different markets typically have very different market trends for a similar type of skill set. As an example, it might be much easier to find a C++ embedded candidate in San Jose than it would be in Philadelphia because of the type of companies located in either city that attract a certain type of skilled workers. Today it doesn’t matter if there’s a plethora of companies that employ a certain type of candidate or there’s only a few, the same blanket of frustration is draped over every metropolitan city in their hunt to find an appropriate candidate. You don’t have to be desperate to know that it’s frustrating and damaging when a position stays open.

The frustrating part of this is that when you do find that candidate you usually have plenty of competition. Aside from moving quickly which a lot of your competition is already doing, the key to landing your candidate is to make the right offer first and don’t seek to make an offer that you know you can counter.

Yes, you’re right, in negotiating a price everyone knows the tactic of lowballing and countering. You never know, they might accept your lowball offer first or you can meet in the middle somewhere. When you’re hiring someone, lowballing someone can and will be taken personally so if you make someone an offer that’s lower than their asking price it will turn them off even if you intended to counter them at a higher price. Lowballing says that if the person doesn’t take this offer than it’s not a big deal to you. That’s how they’re taking it and if that’s what you mean by making that offer, why are you making that offer in the first place?

So that concept should be cemented into every hiring manager’s head before extending an offer. Now what do you do when you want to hire a candidate that’s interviewing at multiple places with a few final round interviews scheduled? Do you make the offer and have them shut down their search or do you wait until they finish those final rounds to potentially beat your competition’s pending offers?

Be the first because:

  •          There are candidates that know where they want to work before any offers get made and then there are candidates that will wait until all options are laid out in front of them. My thought is that if they’re willing to risk losing an offer to see the rest of their suitor’s offers then the first offer wasn’t their first choice anyway.
  •          You’ll know quickly whether the candidate is serious about your opportunity and you don’t risk waiting for them to get all their offers to extend yours only to lose out anyway.
  •          It shows confidence in your opportunity to be the first ones to extend an offer. Waiting to counter the candidate’s other offers shows you’re not a leader and not willing to take the first step.
  •          Making the first offer also shows your decision making abilities, when you make a decision to move forward you move. How a company hires is how they manage.

So how do you make offers? Do you put your best foot forward first or do you wait until you see what the candidate is getting before slapping together your offer? 

Views: 286

Comment by Valentino Martinez on July 16, 2011 at 3:16pm



I agree.  Being the first to make a decent job offer has superior advantages over employers who appear indecisive and drag out their job offer decision process. 

I’ve facilitated the hire of many a professional, high-tech and in high-demand, or not.  I’ve noticed by being the first to extend a decent job offer rarely misses getting the acceptance.  Even if a candidate is in the mix of other interviews and potential job offers are expected “any day now”—they tend to accept the first decent job offer and stick with it.   

Comment by Chris Riopelle on July 18, 2011 at 10:38am


I too agree with you.  Being the first to make a decent offer can provide an advantage over other employers.  Most candidates want to feel wanted and when a good offers comes in quickly after the close of an interview they tend to accept it.  "A bird in hand is worth two in the forest" - Not sure if that analogy means anything outside of Canada.

Comment by Megan Flynn on July 18, 2011 at 12:00pm
I actually have to disagree, at least for my market (the cleared IT world). Being the first to make an offer can sometimes lead to candidates shopping that offer to other companies that are interested to increase their overall worth. Another huge issue I have with being too quick to make an offer is that too many companies now sign contingent offers without a real position in place. It makes it that much harder on everyone who actually has a position for a candidate or makes the candidate think that something is there when it is not. I try to make sure that not only is the candidate getting what he or she is looking for (and in this small market, they usually will) but that the position is a good fit and that they will be happy there in the long run. I do not want to rush into an offer just to hire someone that will end up miserable and possibly quitting after just a few short months.
Comment by Megan Flynn on July 18, 2011 at 1:25pm
Sorry, "cleared" meaning IT professionals with government clearances. Specifically Top Secret Clearance with a Full Scope Polygraph. There is a small pool of candidates in this field, which is why I am hesitant to throw out an offer as quickly as possible. These people are in high demand and they get contingent offers all the time, but I am still more concerned with them being a proper fit for the contract and the position.
Comment by Valentino Martinez on July 19, 2011 at 4:57pm

IT professionals are the exception mainly because many turned mercenary years ago due to multiple opportunities...that generate oodles of direct, short-term, and contract jobs in industry.  IT systems, languages, applications, etc., are always in flux...making these folks always in demand.

With few exceptions, other technical/engineering disciplines are not as transient as IT has become, particularly if they represent the latest cutting edge technologies. 


Not so long ago graduating MBAs could count on multiple offers.  In this economy, if you try to shop around too long for a better opportunity you may experience a job offer being withdrawn.  Companies have too many candidates in queue to putz around with an unconfirmed acceptance.

Obviously an employer has to have other attraction factors besides being quick on the draw--And being quick on the draw, in terms of making a job offer, does not suggest (at least in my experience) that it's done without a through assessment of the candidates in final review.  Some hiring managers and HR recruitment teams have mastered the skill of moving quickly to get to a "green light" decision to extend a job offer.


So, all thing being fairly equal, in many industries, I found candidates were impressed with a quicker hiring decision style than with the experience of being strung along by an employer with no decision being made going on weeks.  Some candidates went so far as to mention that they were accepting our job offer and appreciated the expediency we seem to take on their behalf.  It seemed to them that our fairly swift decision amounted to a flattering vote of confidence in them that other employers were still mulling over but could not commit to one way or the another (which could be interpreted as leaning toward a lack of true interest).  So the early bird does have advantages.

If you snooze you can lose good candidates.

Comment by Timothy Yandel on July 19, 2011 at 5:00pm

The mentality of pressuring people to accept your offer before going on other interviews is not what this post was about. I agree that a candidate should check out their options and the last thing you'd like to do is have a candidate quit within the first few months, but that is a separate issue from the blog post. There's a link on the post that highlights how to extend an offer, which highlights what Bill says about having the candidate rank their opportunities and why. I think that's recruiting 101 honestly and if you're not doing that then it doesn't matter when you're extending the offer, it's just a shot in the dark. 


Being ready to extend an offer to a candidate only to wait for other company's to make their offers first shows you weren't very confident in what you were extending anyway. If you are the right opportunity for the candidate, then make the best offer you can that the candidate would feel comfortable accepting and shutting down their job search. If they aren't willing to do that, most likely you're the candidate's 2nd choice anyway so you're just wasting time and your reputation by making an offer after they've already received others. 


Also - if you're the third to extend an offer to a candidate and you know what the other offers are at, aren't you putting yourself in a situation where you have to beat those other offers? wouldn't that encourage the candidate to accept your job just because of the money and not the opportunity? Those candidates don't work out for the long haul because there's always someone who can make a better offer. 

Comment by Timothy Yandel on July 19, 2011 at 6:44pm
Either way, whether you're an internal or external recruiter I think the shared goal is have the candidate accept an offer, making it first increases your chances.
Comment by Megan Flynn on July 19, 2011 at 7:19pm
If a hiring manager on a contract does not select my candidate for the position I submitted them for, then their offer isn't worth the paper it is written on. Beyond that, at least in my field, candidates will absolutely shop the offer if I extend it too soon. I do not hold out to play games, I hold out to make sure the position is a good fit and that they will be accepted on the contract. In the government world most of the positions are very similar and unfortunately many people are money driven, so extending an offer too soon is not only foolish, it hurts the rest of us who may have a better opportunity for the candidate.
Comment by Timothy Yandel on July 19, 2011 at 9:14pm
Megan I agree and I think the point wasn't to extend the offer too soon, it was make the right offer when you're ready and don't wait because you feel it will be shopped. By having a good relationship with the candidate you should know their expectations and exceed them if you feel they'd shop the offer or don't extend an offer period if the candidate hasn't said that they want you job. I think we're confusing extending an offer too soon versus don't wait to extend if you're ready.

Appreciate the comments from everyone though, I love the insight. I re-read some of my responses and thought I may have been coming off defensive which was not my intention.


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